Donald Trump spent $76M over last 2 years on attorneys as legal troubles mount ahead of election
Image via AP.

Alina Habba
Campaign money was also used to pay attorneys who have represented co-defendants and potential witnesses in the Trump cases.

Donald Trump’s storied business career is checkered by bankruptcies and blunders. His investment in Eli Bartov, a New York University accounting professor, looms as another failed venture.

Trump’s Save America political action committee paid Bartov nearly $930,000 last year as an expert witness in the New York Attorney General’s civil fraud case that threatens the former president’s real estate empire, according to new Federal Election Commission filings.

Bartov bombed. New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron declared in December the professor’s testimony proved only that “for a million or so dollars, some experts will say whatever you want them to say.”

An Associated Press analysis of new Federal Election Commission filings shows the payments to Bartov are among $54 million in legal expenditures made last year by Trump’s political fundraising machine. The spending came as Trump has been battling multiple lawsuits and dozens of felony charges in four criminal cases.

Save America accounted for the bulk of the payments, with 84% of the committee’s spending going toward legal costs.

Coupled with FEC data from 2022, AP’s review found that Save America, Trump’s presidential campaign and his other fundraising organizations have devoted $76.7 million to legal fees over the two years. The hefty sum underscores the legal jeopardy Trump faces as he marches toward securing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York who specializes in campaign finance regulation and government ethics, said that while the legal expenses are large, they’re unlikely to hamper Trump’s run for the White House.

“He seems to be able to raise a lot of money, so I wouldn’t really worry about the long term impact on his campaign,” Briffault said.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and he’s blasted the lengthy list of felony charges and lawsuits as partisan attempts to upend his presidential bid. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the legal spending.

Several of his most prominent lawyers have surpassed $5 million each in payments, all footed by the former President’s campaign donors, according to the FEC filings. Alina Habba, whose New Jersey-based law firm represented Trump in the sexual assault and defamation suit brought by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, has earned the most, $6 million.

Trump suffered a stinging loss in the Carroll case. Juries awarded her more than $88 million. And the criminal cases carry greater political and personal risk for him. Even as the former President drains his campaign coffers to pay for his personal attorney fees, he’s sought to transform the legal woes into an opportunity by portraying himself as the victim of a corrupt justice system.

Reporters and cameras often show up in large numbers when he makes a courtroom appearance, as he’s done in the Carroll and New York fraud cases, and he seizes the stage to pound the message that his political enemies are aiming to silence him and his supporters.

“It’s a terrible thing that’s happening here,” Trump told reporters in early November after exiting the courtroom where the New York fraud case was being held. “I think it’s a very sad day for America.”

Trump is battling two sets of federal charges over his retention of classified records at his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida and for his alleged role in seeking to undermine the 2020 election.

He faces state charges in Georgia that he illegally schemed to overturn the election in the state. And he has been charged by New York City prosecutors with making hush money payments during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep a sexual relationship from becoming public.

Chris Kise, who left the megafirm Foley & Lardner to be one of Trump’s attorneys, was paid $5.1 million in donor dollars over the last two years, according to the FEC filings. Kise and Habba have represented Trump in the New York fraud lawsuit, which could end up banning him from doing business in the state and requiring him to pay several hundred million dollars in penalties.

Continental PLLC, a Florida law firm Kise joined after leaving Foley & Lardner, separately received $5.4 million in Trump donor money, according to the records.

Trump’s campaign paid Atlanta attorney Steven Sadow $1.5 million in the second half of 2023. Trump hired Sadow to represent him in the Georgia election subversion case.

Campaign money was also used to pay attorneys who have represented co-defendants and potential witnesses in the Trump cases. Brand Woodward Law in Washington received $660,000, with the bulk of that money coming in 2023. One of the firm’s clients, Trump valet Walt Nauta, is accused to scheming to conceal Mar-a-Lago security camera footage from government investigators.

Bartov, the accounting professor, did not respond to an email seeking comment. Although he’s not an attorney, the almost $930,000 he received from Save America for legal consulting illustrates the benefits and risks of standing in Trump’s corner.

He’d previously told an AP reporter that Engoron, the Judge in the New York civil fraud case, had mischaracterized his testimony.

The New York Attorney General’s case against Trump centers on his business financial statements. The Attorney General’s Office contends the former president fraudulently inflated the value of assets such as Trump Tower and his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to secure loans and business deals.

But Bartov, hired for his expert perspective, testified in early December he found no evidence of accounting fraud.

Engoron, the Judge, sharply and publicly criticized Bartov in a decision he issued less than two weeks later. Engoron wrote that he’d previously ruled there were numerous and obvious errors in Trump’s financial statements.

“By doggedly attempting to justify every misstatement, Professor Bartov lost all credibility,” the Judge wrote.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Defund Dangerous florida

    February 2, 2024 at 8:48 pm

    Tell us again that “there’s no taxes on Florida”.


    • Impeach Biden

      February 2, 2024 at 9:13 pm

      Do you pay state income tax in Florida? Move to Kalifornia or New York and tell us about taxes.

      • Michael K

        February 2, 2024 at 9:57 pm

        Florida has a regressive tax system. We all pay taxes – plenty of taxes. Even if you rent, you are still paying property tax, though indirectly – it’s one of the reasons rents are so high. If you buy things, you are paying sales tax, if you drive a car, you pay taxes. We are taxed and taxed and taxed – just because there is no state income tax does not mean you are not paying taxes – how do you think we pay for Rhonda’s expensive tastes in travel and political stunts?

        • Impeach Biden

          February 2, 2024 at 10:36 pm

          You can rent a place wherever you want in this country. You will pay those taxes in your rent. You will also pay sales tax. I don’t think there is a state out there that has zero sales tax. We have some of the cheapest car registration fees in the US. Are you really that naive?

          • Dont Say FLA

            February 3, 2024 at 10:22 am

            Alaska currently has zero state sales tax .

            When you want compare citizens’ financial burden of having government, look at the government’s expenditures, not how they classify their revenues.

            And then you compare your ROI on your tax dollar. Where does your tax money go? Does it go to maintaining control of people and holding on to power and staying out of prison? Or perhaps to other stuff?

          • Impeach Biden

            February 3, 2024 at 11:05 am

            Well looky here Don’t Say was working the google machine and found Alaska. They generate a lot of revenue from fossil fuel which you probably don’t like. Afraid of subways? Hilarious. I have ridden them all around the world. Thanks for the laugh Don’t Say.

        • Tom

          February 3, 2024 at 7:51 am

          Florida makes money by collecting sales taxes, documentary stamp taxes, insurance taxes, corporate income taxes, property taxes, and charges for services offered by the government.
          Yep. You pay for it one way or the other. The only upside in Florida is that we have plenty of tourists paying when they visit.

      • Defund Dangerous florida

        February 3, 2024 at 6:21 am

        I live in Manhattan. I have no problem paying taxes for the amazing life Manhattan gives me.
        No car, no worries.

        You get what you pay for. And that’s why there’s no state income tax in Florida.

        • Impeach Biden

          February 3, 2024 at 9:04 am

          I’m happy for you. Keep paying. The illegal train is coming your way. Schooling, housing, medical care, clothing, etc. Your taxes will definitely be going up base on that and people and companies fleeing that high tax, high crime area. Be careful down there in the subway.

          • Dont Say FLA

            February 3, 2024 at 10:25 am

            IBS, cars kill and main more people daily than are killed or maimed in subways annually. You’re just used to your car, but subways are foreign to you, therefore you’re scared of subways.

            The truly bad thing about NYC subways is the smell of urine. That said, to be fair to car, I have run across a couple cars that smelled of urine, too. It’s far less frequent in a car, but it’s much worse when it does happen.

          • Earl's Long Suffering But Heavily Medicated Wife

            February 4, 2024 at 5:20 pm

            You need to send your cult leader another check. And keep sending them. He needs your cash. Remember, they’re not coming for him, they’re coming for you! So send him all your money!

  • PeterH

    February 2, 2024 at 11:48 pm

    I hope republicans send Trump another $76 million + for his attorneys!

  • My Take

    February 3, 2024 at 12:31 am

    When you hire an Assyrian you’re supposed to get a skilled warrior, not a lady WWE wrestler.

    • Defund Dangerous florida

      February 3, 2024 at 6:21 am


  • Dont Say FLA

    February 3, 2024 at 10:15 am

    So much money, yet he still loses every single case. Even more strangely, he continues to claim it’s all rigged despite losses in all different jurisdictions. Only one person could orchestrate that level of coordination, but Taylor Swift’s so busy with a happy successful life that she can’t even come to the phone right now.

  • Ron Forrest Ron

    February 4, 2024 at 6:59 pm

    Trump needs to hire those attorneys that advertise “If we don’t win, you don’t pay.”

Comments are closed.


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